Sometimes inspiration comes at the strangest of moments and the strangest of places. The story goes like this: I was on a flight to Malta. I don’t need to tell you what plane food tastes like. I wasn’t really hungry anyway but I had to have something, so I ate some of the bread and lemon cake wrapped up in plastic. I thought it was going to taste like it, but believe it or not…*ta da* it was good!
I can’t help it. When I think of lemons I think of summer. They are so refreshing and go with almost everything, but together with honey they are also very handy during the winter months, for the sniffles! I wish I had thought of baking with lemons earlier – they would have made the cold gloomy days in Surrey so much better!
So what follows is my adaptation of a recipe I found this week and tried today. I love it and hope you do too. For 9-12 muffins you need:
- 250g plain flour
- 50g plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- the zest & juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 150ml milk
Grease/line with paper a muffin tin and preheat oven to 190°C (375 F).
In a large bowl combine flour, 50g sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and salt. (If you’re using coarse salt make sure to grind it to distribute flavour better.)
In another bowl beat the rest of the sugar, egg, oil, milk and lemon juice.
Combine both mixtures until all is just moistened. (Don’t over beat.)
Spoon the batter into the greased muffin tins and bake for around 20 mins. (Make sure they turn a little golden in colour, especially if you’re lining tin with paper.) Cool completely on a wire rack or serve warm with some ice cream. Why not?!
I don’t know whether you watched the movie Chicken Run. If you did then you would know the story, but if you didn’t (and have no interest in doing so) it’s about a chicken who is obsessed with escaping from a farm. Hopefully not all chickens are unhappy in their chicken runs; if this was so we wouldn’t have our lovely roasts for the weekends!
I’ve always loved chicken. I find it to be so versatile. I discovered the joys of preparing a roast with it when I got Nigella Express from J. I’ve never made it before that but when I did, it became one of my favourites. Depending on the size it could make an ideal meal for two, or if sliced it could be stretched even further.
You have two options: either to roast the chicken by itself (reserving another pan for the potatoes and veggies), or to assemble everything in one pan. I opt for the second option, just because I found a great enamelled cast iron pan where the meat and everything else fits nice and snug. But it’s totally up to you.
To get that chicken moist from the inside and tasty from the outside I would suggest inserting an onion or some garlic and either one lemon (halved) or an orange in the cavity. Then rub some melted butter (around two tablespoons) on top or some olive oil, rosemary and salt & pepper to taste. I usually leave it at that. (However the next time I cook this I’ll try to remember to cover the bird with some bacon slices.) If you’re adding the vegetables I would put some water or stock at the bottom, not too much, just enough to make sure that nothing burns at the bottom of your pan.
The cooking time depends of course on your oven. Mine’s got a bit of a temperament – I don’t know why. And remember that chicken has to be cooked properly until the juices run clear. To be sure I always check by cutting it between a leg and a thigh bone. The trick to a great roast chicken is the dimensions of the roasting pan that you choose to cook it in. If the pan is too big you’ll end up burning your dinner. Alas..I’ve learnt this the hard way!
For a different take on a roast try Nigella’s Chicken and Chorizo with potatoes.
Everyone knows I’m a huge Nigella fan. No news there. One of the very few things I don’t agree with her on is bread machines. My hubby J bought us one last year and I love it. I use it almost every day and it’s perfect for both sweet and savoury kinds. I haven’t looked back since.
I am trying a new dough recipe now. It’s one for rolls or baps that I’m going to use for this evening’s dinner. (For anyone who’s asking, it’s home-made burgers.) What’s curious is that this recipe calls for 1 egg. I’ve never used eggs for bread doughs before and I’m wondering how it will turn out. We’ll see…